Manitoba

3 more COVID-19 deaths, 130 new cases in Manitoba on Wednesday

Three more people in Manitoba have died due to COVID-19 and the province has 130 new cases of the disease, the province's online dashboard says.

Cases in Northern Health Region jump by 60

A nurse fills up a syringe for a patient receiving a COVID-19 vaccination shot in a September 2021 file photo. In Manitoba, the vast majority of provincial employees designated as requiring vaccination or regular testing have complied with the orders, health officials said Wednesday. (Emily Elconin/Reuters)

Three more people in Manitoba have died due to COVID-19 and the province has 130 new cases of the disease, the province's online dashboard says.

Manitoba's five-day test positivity rate dropped slightly to 4.2 per cent, from 4.3 per cent on Tuesday. The seven-day average number of new cases rose from 97 to 108.

"While Manitoba continues to ward off a significant uptick in case numbers, we are not out of the woods yet," Deputy Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said during an online news conference on Wednesday.

Although Wednesday's case numbers brought the seven-day average of new cases up, that doesn't necessarily indicate an acceleration in case growth, Atwal said. Daily case numbers have fluctuated from about 50 to about 150 in recent weeks, he said.

"We have kind of gone up and down over the last five weeks, so it is hard to predict that future."

Atwal urged Manitobans to continue to get tested, noting that about 50 per cent of new COVID-19 hospital admissions are only getting their first test after they arrive.

On Wednesday, the Northern Health Region saw the highest increase in cases, with 60 new cases reported. The Southern Health region had 33 new cases, while there were 25 in Winnipeg, nine in Prairie Mountain Health and three new cases in the Interlake-Eastern region.

The total number of people in hospital due to COVID-19 rose to 83 from 78, while the number of patients in intensive care units rose to 22 from 17.

Wednesday's deaths bring the toll in Manitoba to 1,240 people, and the new cases bring the total number of COVID-19 cases to 60,738. Of those, 1,121 are active cases and 60,738 have recovered.

Labs completed 3,025 tests on Tuesday.

The number of cases linked to variants of concern increased by 49, to a total of 20,582. One more case was reclassified as stemming from the alpha variant, while the others involve an unspecified variant.

Vaccination, testing requirements

The vast majority of provincial employees designated as requiring vaccination or regular testing have complied with the orders, Atwal said.

Of the approximately 5,800 civil service staff, 99.8 per cent are complying, with 429 people undergoing regular testing.

In the health-care system, 36,269 of the province's approximately 42,000 direct-care workers have reported that they are fully vaccinated and 1,788 are undergoing testing. Another 184 are unvaccinated or haven't disclosed their status and are refusing testing. 

Including designated public staff and independent staff, a total of 36,540 education workers are fully vaccinated, 3,129 are undergoing testing, and 143 staff are on unpaid leave, some of whom may have resigned, Atwal said.

Most school divisions haven't reported any significant impacts due to staff on leave or refusing testing, he said.

However, "schools or school divisions in regions where there are lower vaccination rates will have a higher proportion of staff undergoing testing, as well as those refusing," he said.

Those who refuse testing will be dealt with using a "progressive discipline" approach, Atwal said.

"Manitoba Education is working with the Manitoba School Boards Associations and divisions to understand and mitigate these challenges."

Residents of congregate living facilities for older people are now eligible for third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead on the province's vaccine implementation task force, said at Wednesday's news conference.

Since September, Manitoba has been expanding eligibility for third doses.

Current eligibility for third doses includes people who live on First Nations, health-care workers with direct contact with patients, residents or clients, people who have only received the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines or a vaccine not approved by Health Canada, residents of all personal care homes and people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

The province is also preparing to vaccinate kids as young as five as early as the end of November, pending Health Canada approval of an application from Pfizer.

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